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Uncalled California races could affect balance of power in House

(NewsNation) — The balance of power in the House of Representatives is still unknown, as tight congressional races in California have still not been called — and it could stay like that for a while.

According to the California Secretary of State’s Office, county election officials have 30 days to process and verify all ballots. The secretary of state will certify results by Dec. 16, the office said on Twitter.

There isn’t just one single reason the process seems slow this year, the Sacramento Bee reported. Some factors are that election officials are extra careful to avoid challenges and controversy, and that more people voted by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the newspaper. In Sacramento, only 21,116 of the city’s 864,814 registered voters cast their ballots in person.

In California, ballots are allowed to arrive in the voter’s county election office a week later, and counting mail-in ballots involves several steps, according to the Bee.

Among the many races still being counted that could affect which party seizes control of the House is the one between current Rep. Katie Porter, a Democrat, and Republican Scott Baugh. With a slim margin of 50.81% to 49.19%, Porter is in the lead, according to Decision Desk HQ, which estimated 63% of the votes are in for that district as of 7 a.m. Friday morning. 

Porter spent more than $24 million to win a third term. The Associated Press reported that she’s become a star of the Democrats’ progressive wing and a prolific fundraiser with a national following. Her opponent, Baugh, has criticized her repeatedly over gas and grocery prices. Meanwhile, Porter has focused on protecting rights in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

Another Democrat, Mike Levin, is also locked in a close race with Brian Maryott. Levin, the incumbent, has 51.71% of the vote so far, while Maryott is at 48.29%. So far, Decision Desk says,62% of the vote has been counted.

Republican David Valadao is defending his seat against Democrat Rudy Salas. Valadao, according to Decision Desk, has 54.2% of the vote. On Friday morning, though, only 36% of the votes have been counted, Decision Desk said. Valadao, who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump, lost a reelection bid four years ago, after late-arriving mail-in ballots were counted. He ended up winning back the seat in 2020.

Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, Decision Desk said, was narrowly ahead of Will Rollins; the former had 50.54%, while Rollins had 49.46%. Of the total votes, 44% were in Friday, Decision Desk estimated.

Residents of Los Angeles are also anxiously awaiting the final outcome of a significant race: the one for mayor between Rick Caruso and Karen Bass. Currently, Caruso has a slight lead over Bass, with 50.25%, or 273,941 votes, according to Decision Desk HQ.

The L.A. Times reported that Caruso on Wednesday morning said he thinks he will eventually prevail.

“I wish it could happen sooner,” Caruso said, according to the Times. “But they’ve got to verify signatures, it‘s just the process.”

Bass said on Twitter that she feels “great” about the numbers so far.

“As we await the next rounds of updates, know we’re already rolling up our sleeves to launch urgent solutions for homelessness, crime and affordability,” she said.

NewsNation local affiliate KTLA said the race for mayor is so close, final results might not be available until Friday or even Saturday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.